Tomatoes are flavorful garden fruits that can be used in many recipes.
Many people grow tomatoes in their home gardens during the summer.
When picking tomatoes from the garden, it is helpful to know when and how to find those that are perfectly ripe and ready to eat.
The following guide will help you pick tomatoes at the right time.
- Pick tomatoes in the summer when they are most flavorful.
- Your climate will determine the best time to pick summer tomatoes from the garden.
- Tomatoes are generally ready to pick 55-to-100 days after planting the seeds, depending on the variety.
- Tomatoes can be harvested when they are still green and allowed to ripen off the vine.
- Pick tomatoes from the vine before the first freeze.
- Pick tomatoes often (every 1-to-2 days in some cases) during the peak growing season to prevent over-ripening on the vine.
- Look carefully at the outside of the tomato.
- Most ripe tomatoes are a bright red color, although tomatoes that ripen in hot weather may be yellowish-orange.
- Different varieties of tomatoes will have different mature colors. Tomatoes can ripen to colors of red, orange, yellow, pink and purple. Check the bottoms of the tomatoes for the mature ripe color of the variety you are picking. This is where tomatoes begin to ripen first.
- The skin of the tomato should be smooth and slightly shiny without any dark spots or bruises. Even a small spot can indicate that the tomato is rotten on the inside.
- Feel the tomato for firmness.
- Tomatoes that are appropriately ripe should feel slightly firm when you lightly squeeze them. A hard tomato needs additional time to ripen.
- If the tomato has soft spots, it usually means the soft areas will turn to bruises and the tomato may rot.
- A tomato that is too soft all over is over-ripe and should be removed from the vine and discarded.
- Test the weight of the tomato in your hand.
- Lighter-weight tomatoes are not quite ripe.
- Tomatoes that are heavy and dense are usually ripe and ready to pick and eat.
- Smell the tomato to check for ripeness.
- The tomato should smell sweet and earthy at the stem. A strong sweet smell indicates that the tomato will be more flavorful.
- Tomatoes can be picked at "first blush" and allowed to ripen off of the vine. This can reduce problems with cracking and prevent animals or insects from eating the ripe tomato. There may be a difference in taste between these tomatoes and those allowed to ripen on the vine.
- Tomatoes ripen best on the vine in moderate temperatures of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius).
- The tomato will soften before the color matures in hot weather. Pick these tomatoes and allow them to ripen indoors.
- Do not leave discarded tomatoes in your garden, as this can attract pests and spread disease.
- Remove diseased or misshapen tomatoes from the vine and discard them to prevent any diseases or pest infestations from spreading.
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